Friday, July 27th, 2012
Game time: Sunday, Oct. 14, 1 p.m. ET, Lincoln Financial Field
Weather: low-80s, partly cloudy
Records: Lions (1-3) at Eagles (3-2)
Two things: When the Eagles have the ball :
1. Stop us if you've heard this one… Michael Vick has to limit turnovers. This isn't news and yet it's a problem that continues. Philly had managed to overcome the interceptions and fumbles against the Browns and Ravens but it came back to haunt them in losses to the Cardinals and Steelers.
But coach Andy Reid seems content to stick with Vick. He said Thursday that the turnovers didn't affect the way he called the game. Reid also thinks that Vick will get better when it comes to ball security.
"There’s very few things that are emphasized more than after each play, [making sure that] we have possession of the ball," he said. "So, we’ll continue to emphasize it, continue to drill it and it’s just that simple.”
2. Reid loves throwing the ball and this could be the team to do it against. The Lions' pass defense is slightly above average against opponents' No. 1 receivers, but they're among the worst in the league against everybody else. Which means that Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy could have big afternoons. And the more the Eagles possess the ball, the less time the Lions' high-powered (if erratic) offensive will have on the field.
Two things: When the Lions have the ball :
1. There's some concern that teams are starting to target cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. We'll have a definite answer by Sunday evening because the Lions have weapons in the passing game that few teams can rival.
“I think what happens is that you’re either going to throw at Nnamdi or your going to throw at Dominique (Rodgers-Cromartie)," defensive coordinator Juan Castillo explained Thursday. "Sometimes, it just depends on where Nnamdi is or whether we’re matching receivers. Sometimes, we’re putting Nnam on the guy that they’re throwing more balls to, and sometimes we put Dominique over there. It ends up being a match thing, depending on the receivers, where we put Nnamdi or where we put Dominique. Both of those guys are having good years."
"Good" is a relative term and one that means little if it's accompanied by losing. According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles' secondary ranks seventh in the league against the pass, which confirms Castillo's assessment. But they'll have to be better than that against Calvin Johnson.
2. The front seven has to get after Stafford. Last week, the Eagles didn't sack Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It was the first time in nearly two years Roethlisberger wasn't sacked in a game. If Philly struggles to generate pressure on Stafford, the Lions' downfield passing game could be in for a big day. Castillo calls Detroit's offense line "a pretty physical group," and if Asomugha or Rodgers-Cromartie finds themselves in single coverage on Johnson, that's a matchup the Lions would welcome.
"I told our media, they asked me about him, I just said, 'when the guys name you Megatron, that means that you're pretty good,'" Reid said via the Detroit Free-Press. "He's if not the best, one of the best in the business right now and maybe one of the best to ever play this game. So our guys have got to prepare themselves right to play him. We've got good players, they've got good players, so we've got to make sure we get ourselves right to play a very good wide receiving corps in general. But you ask me about him, and he's one of the best."
X Factor. Teams looking for a spark sometimes consider putting one of their best skill-position players back on kick or punt returns, especially when they have a history of success in that role. Would the Eagles do that with DeSean Jackson in punting situations?
“He’s always ready to go," special teams coach Bobby April said. "Most of our punt [returns] have not been traditionally [field] punts, they’ve been up closer to the 50 yard line where you have to worry about a lot of things and you have to spread yourself a little bit thin. It’s tough to make an all-out concentration on the punt return in that phase of the game…You never know. You may get your wish this week, you may get it in two weeks but I don’t know. He’s always ready to go.”